[Cu-wireless] wireless for your desktop pc
dyoung at onthejob.net
Sun Nov 18 21:53:21 CST 2001
In this e-mail I share my research on equipment suitable for attaching
a desktop computer to an external antenna for 802.11b. First, I look
at ISA/PCI <-> PC Card/CardBus adapters that will accept any old
wireless card. I focus on adapters from PCI bus to CardBus because
all those adapters seem to be backwards-compatible w/ 16-bit PC Cards,
and because they will support the emerging CardBus-only 50Mb/s wireless
adapters. But there are also some ISA/PCMCIA adapters in the mix.
Here is the executive summary:
For adapting PC Cards to ISA/PCI bus, the very best deals appear to be
ZyXEL's CardBus<->PCI adapter, and Amtron's 16-bit PC Card<->PCI adapter.
If you do not already have a wireless PC Card that you want to plug
into your desktop, you might consider ZoomAir's wireless PCI adapter,
or D-Link's. Both will accept external antennas. D-Link's is cheapest
at just $100.
ISA/PCI <-> PC Card/CardBus adapters:
Some products in this category only adapt storage-type PC Card
adapters. Beware IDE adapters. These are probably only suitable for
disks and flash storage in the PC Card form factor.
There are adapters from PC Card/CardBus to ISA/PCI that are loaded
from a drivebay. Here are some URLs for advertisers of drive-bay
adapters and more.
Synchrotech sells all sorts of adapters for PC Card/CardBus. Some
plug into a drive bay (you pay a premium for these). Others adapt to
USB, PC104, or IEEE 1394 buses. They give lots of detail on their
products. They even mention Linux and Solaris support for some of
PCI Bus to PC Card and CardBus Read-Writer Internal Rear
1 Slot $90.00 (these two prices may or may not reflect the $20
discount that expires 30 November)
2 Slot $169.00
ISA Bus to PC Card Read-Writer Internal Rear
2 Slot $81.00
For $99, sells a two-slot, rear-mount (that is, loads on the back
of your computer) PCI to CardBus/16-bit PC Card adapter. There are
other adapters here, too.
For $99, sells a two-slot, front-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for PCI.
For $59, sells a one-slot, rear-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for PCI.
For $99, two-slot, rear-mount 16-bit PC Card reader for ISA bus.
For $119, two-slot, rear-mount PC Card & CardBus reader for PCI bus.
For just $69.90, the ZyAIR adapts 16-bit PC Cards and CardBus cards
to PCI bus.
WirelessModemOnline is the only U.S. reseller for this product I find.
For CompactPCI systems (this is for embedded systems), sells a CardBus
More on desktop adapters:
I read somewhere that D-Link's PCMCIA<->PCI adapter will adapt any PCMCIA
card. Maybe that explains why I only see the card bundled with a LinkSys
wireless PC Card....
The LinkSys PCI adapter only accepts wireless cards; possibly it
only accepts Intersil (Prism II) cards; worse, it may accept only
LinkSys-brand PC Cards. Note that no LinkSys PC Card is built to
accept an external antenna.
Here are PCI-only solutions:
D-Link Air (DWL-520) Wireless PCI Adapter. This does not adapt a
PC Card to the PCI bus, it is an actual PCI-bus wireless solution
with DETACHABLE ANTENNA. The antenna attaches using a 'reverse SMA
connector', which is pretty standard. I cannot find any reseller,
but D-Link sells the card for just $100. This could be the very most
affordable way to attach an external antenna to a desktop PC.
There is a Proxim Harmony PCI 802.11b card. The least price I've found
so far is $176 at http://www.sansfilsys.com/products.htm . It also has
a reverse SMA connector.
Zoom bundles a ZoomAir card with external antenna connector (reverse SMA,
I think) and ISA or PCI adapter. These can be had for $150-$160.
The LinkSys WMP11 is cheap ($100). It has a removable diversity
antenna, but it is my I guess that it will not accept other antennas
Finally, a word about USB. There are a variety of USB 802.11b adapters. I
have not researched these, but I imagine that some of them will accept
an external connector. Maybe someone will research these for us.
David Young On the Job Consulting
dyoung at onthejob.net Urbana, IL * (217) 278-3933
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